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Mariko Wassy

Mariko Wassy, mathematician in Life Reinsurance

It was already clear to me after taking my school-leaving examination that I wanted to go into the business world in order to indulge my soft spot for numbers. As a launch pad for this career I majored in mathematics in Cologne and Bielefeld. My subsidiary subjects were business administration and economics.

During my degree course I went on a number of internships – including one in the reinsurance industry. This finally enabled me to put into practice the knowledge I had gained from my studies. I was required to apply new mathematical problem-solving strategies on a daily basis. This was a challenge that I thoroughly enjoyed. With graduation approaching, I embarked on a systematic search for trainee openings. I wanted to build on my practical experience and thus my attention was drawn towards Hannover Re.

My application was successful and I embarked on the mathematics trainee programme on the life side. The individual periods of training in different areas – including those spent abroad – were tailored exactly to fit my abilities. Assisted by an in-house adviser, I was able to quickly familiarise myself with the various departments. Somebody was always there to help whenever I had questions. I spent my last four months as a trainee in the department where I also ended up working: Life & Health Asia. For me personally, the absolute highlight of my time as a trainee was the period spent abroad in Japan and South Korea. I was able to get to know face-to-face the colleagues with whom I had been communicating from Hannover. Needless to say, the fact that my background is half-Japanese was a real help in this regard.

As someone who speaks several languages I find it easy to make contacts. I do not have any anxieties about dealing with other cultures. It is, however, sometimes a challenge to connect two cultures and mediate between them. In Germany, for example, people are relatively direct. This is not the case in Japan, where one should be careful not to criticise others too harshly.

I have since changed department and I am now looking after the German market. My efforts continue to be focused on closing reinsurance treaties. Each treaty is unique: from the drafting of the contract through the negotiations to the support provided. What this means is that the company is not selling the same solution a thousand times over, but rather it tailors each treaty calculation to the particular customer. Working together with our customers, we discuss a viable model, clarify the profitability and provide contract wordings. Once the treaties are available, I enter them in the system. Discussions with the Accounting department, for example regarding whether we need to establish reserves, also form part of my everyday working routine. In other words, I deal with the all-round package, as I like to call it. My work still has an international dimension - the German reinsurance market is one of the most advanced in the world, and cooperation with colleagues abroad is highly diverse and educational for both sides.

Parallel to my professional duties, Hannover Re enabled me to train as an insurance and financial actuary with the German Actuarial Society. In addition, there is a broad range of training opportunities to foster personal growth and promote specialist expertise, e.g. in relation to the financial statements. What matters to me is the right balance between work and personal life. With that in mind, I make sure never to miss out on regular get-togethers with friends, many of whom are also my colleagues – that really is the perfect balance for me.